Just a Suspicion But Daly May Be Maturing


So John Daly has another lightning bolt for us.
It was almost exactly 10 years ago, at the 1991 PGA Championship, that he was introduced with all the impact of a meteor striking the earth in New York City. He won. And he won last weekend at the BMW International Open in Munich, Germany. Along the way in this pro golf odyssey, he has won two other times, though the last one was way back in 1995. That one caused a few heads to swivel, too, being that it was the British Open.
Is John back? Well, maybe yes, maybe no. Maybe he will win again before the year is over. But maybe it will again take six years, as it did this time around.
First, let it be known that this was no fluke ' Daly was up against the best of Europe. The course was rather short, but John utterly decimated it, equaling the European Tour record of 27-under-par. He was playing most of the European Ryder Cup team, and he won the tournament with a last-hole birdie to beat Irishman Padraig Harrington, an excellent player who now has the rather dubious distinction of shooting the lowest score ever to lose in Europe ' 26-under.
Finally, all the hard work I have put in is starting to pay off, said Daly. This has been my most consistent year and Ive been preparing myself like I used to.
Look at the record, though. Daly finished in a tie for 17th at his last tournament, the Reno-Tahoe Open. That is a second-tier tournament, and he missed the cut in his three previous efforts ' the British Open, the International and the PGA Championship. He has missed the cut eight times in 21 tournaments in 2001.
But ' there is reason to pay attention to John. He tied for ninth at Phoenix and tied for fifth at Memphis. He finished third at Loch Lomond in Scotland in July. He is 81st on the money list, and only once in the past six years has he finished as high as 108th.
Daly is still far too aggressive ' he ranks 190th in driving accuracy, 87th in greens in regulation. But he is a respectable 51st in putting, even if his 152nd position out of the bunkers is an embarrassment.


His personal life has been another embarrassment. He has been in and out of rehab centers, trashed hotel rooms, destroyed a room in his house, played hockey with his ball on the green at a U.S. Open, been put on probation by the Tour, dropped by Reebok, Wilson and Callaway from their endorsement staffs, and many, many more. Still just 31 years of age, he brought with him to Germany his fourth wife. He married Sherrie Miller, a nurse, just seven weeks after their introduction. He currently pays $40,000 a month in alimony payments. Luckily for him, he won $680,000 in a Las Vegas casino the day before the ceremony July 29.
But Daly was brilliant on the course in Munich. He did everything he is known for when he won his two majors, said Harrington.
Its not that he hits the ball so long ' there are lots of people who do that. But its how straight he hits it. He drove the ball superbly and he has a great touch with his putting. He played very confident golf.
Daly says he is a changed man. Of course, hes said that before. And before. And before. But now that hes in his 30s, maybe he really has.
I dont give up on myself or get down on myself like I used to, he said after the victory. Well, doggone it, maybe he doesnt. I played 72 holes this week with only two missed shots. To be able to say that with my aggressive game is an awesome feeling.
Does he really mean it? Well, believe it or not, he hasnt had a drink it a year. Hes not going to AA now, but he says the urge to have a cold one just doesnt hit me anymore.
Then, to prove it, he passed around the jereboam of champagne that he had just won to members of the media.

I had some when I was 14 at my sisters wedding, and I cant stand the (stuff), he said. I never drank it after I woke up with the worst headache of my life.
Is John Daly finally growing up? Maybe. Maybe Wild Thing is about to become Mature Thing.